On Tuesday, the Big Ten announced a 10-man preseason all-conference team, with Wisconsin forward Nigel Hayes getting tabbed the league’s Preseason Player of the Year.
Other than the indefensible act of naming 10 players on an all-conference team, this list is decent. But it includes two notable – and highly questionable – omissions: O.G. Anunboy of Indiana and Miles Bridges of Michigan State.
Bridges is a freshman, so I understand how some people may be reticent to vote for him. My guess is Michigan’s Derrick Walton took his spot. And Anunoby is expected to be something of a breakout star this year while Blackmon averaged 15.7 points as a freshman before suffering a knee injury last season.
Those are the only two changes I would make on this team.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) Rick Pitino has an idea of where some points will come from on a Louisville squad he hopes will create scoring opportunities through his trademark pressure defense.
The Hall of Fame coach is confident that players such as junior guard Quentin Snider and sophomore wing Deng Adel will play big roles in making things work on both ends of the floor for the Cardinals.
For the 6-foot-2 Snider – a Louisville native who is the Cardinals’ top returning scorer (9.4 points per game), co-captain and floor leader – the high expectations aren’t different from his own.
“My goal this year is being more aggressive, taking the open shots,” said Snider, who also averaged 3.5 assists per contest last season. “But I still want to be a good facilitator and find easy shots for D.A. (Adel) and Donovan (Mitchell). … Coach just said I just have to take the shot, and that’s what I have to do.”
The 6-7 Adel looks to stay healthy after being sidelined for a month early last season with a left knee injury. He returned to average 7.2 points and 3.2 rebounds in five starts down the stretch and show glimpses of the athleticism that had him poised to break out before the injury.
A summer of training – and the looming threat from Pitino of spending time on the treadmill for passing up shots – have Adel motivated to shoot early, to shoot often and to rebound.
“That treadmill was my best friend and it was just little things,” Adel said. “The injury hurt me mentally and I felt like I was in the back of the pack. I had a lot of things I had to shake off. This will be much better.”
Pitino certainly hopes so as he cited contributions from Adel and Snider in a Tuesday news conference that addressed several topics. Among them was the ongoing NCAA investigation into escort Katina Powell’s book allegations that former men’s basketball staffer Andre McGee hired her and other dancers to strip and have sex with Cardinals recruits and players at the team’s dormitory.
The school’s investigation ultimately led to a self-imposed postseason ban in February that left Louisville outside of the Atlantic Coast Conference and NCAA tournaments and wondering what if after finishing 23-8 (12-6 ACC). Pitino said several times Tuesday that he and the program have moved on from the scandal and is eager to see what’s possible with players such as Adel, Snider and a lighter Mitchell.
“I think Deng is going to score a lot of points,” Pitino said. “I think Donovan is going to score points. I think Quentin Snider will get points. … I think you’ll see a lot of players step up and score. They’re very capable of doing that.”
Snider’s confidence and poise began growing after replacing the dismissed Chris Jones as a starter, when he averaged 9.5 points and 3.1 assists in 10 late-season Louisville games. The soft-spoken guard took it a step further last season, teaming with graduate transfers Trey Lewis and Damion Lee to lead the offense and provide chemistry that Pitino believes will be one of this year’s strengths.
Adel and Snide get their chance to showcase the improvements they’ve made over the summer in Wednesday night’s first Red-White scrimmage. No matter which squad they play on, the Cardinals expect energy from Adel while taking their cues from the veteran they call “Q.”
“Q is our anchor,” said senior center Mangok Mathiang, a co-captain. “He speeds the pace up, slows the pace down and calls the shots. He’s gotten better every year. With him doing his thing, we just try to help and say, `Q, it’s your rock, you do what you gotta do.”‘
VIDEO: John Wall confirms Billy Gillispie kicked him out of practice on visit
During an interview with Kentucky Sports Radio’s Matt Jones, former Kentucky guard John Wall confirmed a rumor that has been floating around Lexington for years: That on a recruiting visit, former Kentucky head Billy Gillispie kicked the player out of a practice.
Considering that Wall would go on to become arguably the most important recruit that John Calipari landed in his time at UK, maybe Billy Clyde could have gone about that a different way.
Then again, considering the number of stories we hear about his time in Lexington, I guess it’s not all that surprising that he only lasted two seasons.
Ivy League Season Preview: Princeton, Harvard and Yale headline as league makes major changes
There will be a major change in the Ivy League that we saw last season and the one that will on display this season: No longer will the conference’s automatic bid be given to the regular season champion. The Ivy was the last conference to hold out, but starting this year, the league will be holding a four-team conference tournament at the Palestra in Philly, an event that should be terrific for college basketball junkies while, at the same time, eliminating the main quirk of the Ivy that made it so unique.
That said, there is some benefit here, as the conference may not be a true contender to get a second team into the dance. Without a conference tournament, the second place team would have to put together a good enough résumé to earn a bid, and that’s not an easy thing to do in a mid-major conference.
That would be significant for the conference, because it has had as much success in the NCAA tournament as any mid-major league in recent years. The league has five wins in the last seven tournaments, all as double-digit seeds, the most recent being Yale‘s upset win over No. 5 Baylor in the first round last year. The Elis lose Justin Sears and Brandon Sherrod, but they bring back Makai Mason, the league’s Preseason Player of the Year and one of the best point guards in college basketball at any level. The 6-foot-1 junior averaged 16.0 points and 3.8 assists last season, has been working out with the German national team and made his name nationally with a 31-point performance in the win over Baylor.
Mason is going to need some help to step up this season, and there are options. Seniors Sam Downey and Anthony Dallier should be ready for bigger roles, while James Jones has added a slew of young talent in the last two recruiting classes. Those youngsters will have to step up if Yale is going to beat out Princeton and Harvard for a second straight league title.
Last season, Princeton was probably good enough to win the league. They finished 12-2 in the regular season, which, in most years, would have been enough to at least earn a shot at a playoff. Not so last year, but the good news is that the Tigers return essentially everyone from last season: Henry Caruso, Devin Cannady, Spencer Qeisz, Steven Cook, Amir Bell. They also get Hans Brase, a double-figure scorer in 2014-15, back from a torn ACL and return a myriad of young talent for depth. To me, Princeton is probably the favorite to win the Ivy this year.
But Harvard isn’t all that far behind, assuming that Siyani Chambers returns from his torn ACL at 100 percent. Chambers has been a star in the league since his freshman season and led the Crimson to a pair of NCAA tournament wins, but as a senior, he sat out following the injury. Tommy McCarthy had his moments in a promising freshman year starting in Chambers’ place, and that duo, combined with Zena Edosomwan in the middle, perhaps the best inside-outside punch in the league. The key for Edosomwan is consistency, and if he shows up to play every night, Tommy Amaker has enough talent around that trio to win any game on any floor in the league.
After those three, the Ivy is fairly open, which makes things interesting. Remember, that fourth-place finisher gets the last bid to the Ivy League tournament and a shot at the NCAA tourney.
With former Cornell coach Steve Donahue leading the way, Penn was much better late in the year than they were early in the season. And keep in mind, Penn would be playing home games at the Palestra. A team with 11 freshmen and sophomores returns four starters and may be the best of the rest. Dartmouth‘s Evan Boudreaux, who averaged better than 20 points and 10 boards in league play as a freshman, should at least keep the Big Green relevant, and the same could be said of Cornell‘s Matt Morgan, a sophomore that averaged 22.6 points in league play last year.
Both Cornell and Dartmouth underwent coaching changes this offseason, as did Columbia, who saw Jim Engles replace Kyle Smith. The Lions are in a bit of a rebuilding stage with the graduation of Maodo Lo and Alex Rosenberg. Brown brings back four starters, but they do so from a team that finished tied for last in the conference.
PRESEASON IVY PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Makai Mason, Yale
The performance that he had in last year’s NCAA tournament not withstanding, Mason averaged 16.0 points and 3.8 assists for the Elis last season. I think Yale is going to remain relevant in the Ivy League title race, and for them to be able to do that with Sears and Sherrod gone, Mason is going to have to go nuts this year.
THE REST OF THE PRESEASON ALL-IVY TEAM:
Siyani Chambers, Harvard: The ACL worries me, but with his track record, he’s on this list until it’s clear he’s not himself.
Henry Caruso, Princeton: Caruso’s numbers won’t jump off the stat sheet like some of the other guys in the league, but he’s a major reason the Tigers are as good as they’ve been.
Matt Morgan, Cornell: His numbers will likely take a hit with the new coaching staff and style of play, but this kid, as a freshman, averaged 22.6 points in Ivy League play. That’s nuts.
Zena Edosomwan, Harvard: He’s the most talented big man in the conference. The question is whether or not he proves as much on a nightly basis.
NEW YORK (AP) Defending national champion Villanova is the runaway preseason No. 1 in the Big East Conference.
The Wildcats are the choice of nine coaches – who cannot vote for their own team – while runner-up Xavier received the other vote.
Villanova senior guard Josh Hart is the coaches’ choice as preseason player of the year.
Following Xavier in the poll are Creighton, Georgetown, Seton Hall, Butler, Marquette, St. John’s, Providence and DePaul.
Joining Hart on the preseason first team are teammate Kris Jenkins, who hit the game-winning shot in last season’s national championship game, Kelan Martin of Butler, Maurice Watson Jr. of Creighton and Xavier teammates Trevon Bluiett and Edmond Sumner.
Shamorie Ponds of St. John’s is the preseason freshman of the year.
CBT Podcast: Big Ten Breakdown and Bold Predictions
In today’s episode of the CBT Podcast, we spend an hour breaking down the Big Ten. We go through the ranks, team by team, and not only discuss their prospects for the season, but we give a bold prediction for each and every program in the league.
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